Travel Notes: Asolo

Surrounded by ancient walls and dominated by a charming fortress, the small town of Asolo sits atop a hill in the Treviso area, just an hour away from the more bustling Venice.

The archway to town

Enclosed within the ancient walls that branch off from the Rocca, a medieval fortress built in the 12th century, Asolo boasts several arched passages to the main area of the town. I am always fascinated by this type of constructions, features present in most of the cities in the Veneto region. Once built for protection, the walls surrounding the borgo are today the perfect charming entrance to discover this unique city.

The Zen Fountain

A charming fountain welcomes you as you enter from the southern entrance of the city, a well deserved point of refreshment for those who face the climb up the hill. On the day we visited Asolo the sun was shining bright in the sky, drawing harsh plays of lights and shadows on the fountain animalesque decorations. The fountain was built in 1571 by the Zen Family to bring water to their rich residence. The Municipality agreed to the construction of i only after the commitment of the Zen family to build the fountain for the benefit of the wayfarers who came to the village after a long journey.

The main square

Surrounded by bars, cafés and restaurants is the main square of Asolo. When we passed through, the square was buzzing with locals and tourists chatting while having an aperitivo under the warm sun. A typical sight in an Italian town yet always charming and amusing in a way.

Women of Asolo

Caterina Cornaro isn't the only woman famous around here. The actress Eleonora Duse, who revolutionised modern theatre acting and drew here many of her lovers, including celebrity poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, has in fact a theatre and a hotel dedicated to her. Travel writer and explorer Freya Stark whose home. Built on the foundations of the old Roman forum, Villa Freya is hidden behind tall gates and surrounded by the most stunning garden of roses and irises and wildflowers.

The Cathedral

Ancient Duomo, built on the site of Roman ruins, which houses works by Lorenzo Lotto and Jacopo Bassano.

Do Mori restaurant

The view from the castle

I can see why Italian poet Giosuè Carducci called Asolo “the town with one hundred horizons”. Observing the surrounding area you glimpse corners of the city and see how they preserved their beauty even if thousand years have passed.

The castle of Queen Caterina Cornaro

The Queen Caterina Cornaro of Cyprus took possession of the area in exchange for the cessation of her island to the Venetian Republic. During her reign augis an elegant court sprang up, dedicated to a life of culture and ease. Unfortunately little remains of her castle today, though the ruins are nevertheless imbued with great charm and fascination.

The hillside walk

The fortress dating back to the period of the Ezzelini rule was restored at the end of the last century, and offers a fascinating walk through the surrounding hillside: from the fortress to Borgo Casella with its wholly Medieval appearance, we proceed along to the Foresto Vecchio until the house of the musician Francesco Malipiero and the 14th century church of San Angelo.